The Turtles are Coming!
07/25/2008 - 07/27/2008
Leaving Granada, we headed further southwest towards the coast. As we mentioned before, the bus depots here can get kind of crazy. We ended up having to take a "chicken bus" to a small town called Rivas, and then continued on to the coast by taxi. Most of the buses here are old, run-down Bluebird school buses. They cram in as many people as they can, tourists and locals, including luggage, produce, and even chickens. Throughout the journey, many people get on and off the bus selling bags of rice and beans, fried chicken, cookies, etc. Many of the drinks they sell (e.g., water, milk, and juice) are in small plastic baggies. You simply bite a hole into the bag and then enjoy your drink.
San Juan Del Sur is a popular destination located along the Pacific coast. The town itself is quite small and easy to walk around. Most tourists come here for the beaches and to surf. There are water taxis that can take you further along the coast to undeveloped beaches, which are prime surfing spots. It was nice to take a few days to simply relax and hang out by the beach.
About 20 miles further south, there is a sea turtle wildlife preserve called La Flor. We were lucky enough to be in the area for the first arrival of the Olive Ridley Turtles. From July to December, about four days out of each month, the turtles swim ashore to lay eggs. Prime time is usually in October and November, when more than 30,000 turtles storm the beach. The first arrivals are small by comparison. Usually around 1,000 turtles arrive on the first night, dropping to a few hundred on the following nights.
It is a truly amazing process. The turtles use their flippers to dig a shallow hole into the sand. They can actually bend the end of their flippers like hands, scooping up the sand and placing it to the side. After about 20 minutes, when she feels safe, she begins to lay her eggs. Our guide was able to move the sand away without disturbing the turtle so that we could watch. There are usually 50 to 100 eggs in each nest. After the turtle is finished, she uses her flippers to cover the nest and compact the sand, and then returns to the sea. Approximately 60 days later, the eggs hatch and the baby turtles make their way to the ocean.
We've had a really nice time here. We particularly enjoyed getting a chance to see the Olive Ridley turtles. Perhaps someday we will return in October or November for the large arrivals and to watch the baby turtles hatch.
Steve & Ann